2009 PWA Ulsan World Cup
Event Summary: Antoine Albeau and Valerie Ghibaudo hoist the French flag in Korea.
The 2009 PWA Ulsan World Cup proved to be a showcase of French windsurfing talent, as Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) and Valerie Ghibaudo (Loft Sails / Tabou) delivered outstanding performances to claim victory in their respective fleets.
The event is now in its third year on the PWA World Tour, and is currently the only event to take place in Asia. Competing from the 16th-22nd of May, racing took place on the waters off Jinha Beach, in south eastern Korea.
Over the course of the week long event, there were two full days of racing, powered by the local south western thermal wind, which was gusting up to 22 knots both days.
Competitors had to wait until competition’s third day before Jinha Beach awoke to show its true colours, delivering side shore wind under blue sky.
The women’s fleet were first to christen the race course, with Sarah Hebert (Starboard / Naish) setting the early pace: “The first race was really light, but I got a good start so I was leading from the beginning. After that I managed to stay in front and make some good gybes. I was pumping a lot to make sure I was going fast. It’s the first time I’ve won competing against Valerie (Ghibaudo) and Karin (Jaggi).”
The second women’s clash saw Valerie Ghibaudo muscle her way to the front of the pack to claim her first race win: “I got a really nice start, but it was hard conditions. Sometimes it was really light and then there were really strong gusts. Luckily I managed to hold on and win, but I think I made a lot of mistakes”
However, stealing the show was Karin Jaggi (F2 / Severne), who displayed composure to win the remaining two races and in turn take the early event lead.
The first men’s race was dominated by Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne), who took charge of the final, holding off Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North Sails) in second and flying Dutchman Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet / Simmer) in third. Surprisingly, previous event winner, Ross Williams (Gaastra / Tabou), was absent from the race final after false starting in his semi final.
The remain two races were business as usual for Albeau. Dialled into the conditions and looking rock solid at the front of the pack, he showed true class to sail to victory in both showdowns. More impressively, the Frenchman completed this feat without the use of one of his index finger, after a deep cut on the palm of his hand had got infected and required surgery.
Antoine Albeau: “It’s quite hard sailing here, as we’re in the bay, and the wind is coming off the hills, so it’s really, really gusty. It was blowing about 7-22 knots, it’s really up and down. It makes the starts hard as well. Sometimes there are a lot of gusts, and others it’s super light. You really have to concentrate to get a good start.”
Day three had also seen inroads made into the fourth men’s elimination, which witnessed the controversial exit of Bjorn Dunkerbeck after Finian Maynard (RRD / NeilPryde) collided with him at the gybe mark, removing him from the elimination. The crash also meant that Maynard departed the heat.
Maynard: “Bjorn was 30m ahead of me going into the mark, then I don’t know what happened to him, a lot of people have said he stopped. I never saw him. So I went in to do my gybe and got a big gust from behind. The next thing I know I’m just barrelling into him. I’m really sorry for Bjorn, it was definitely my fault, but it came as a total surprise for me. It’s just an unfortunate racing incident.”
Race four was eventually stopped short at the second semi final after the wind backed off too much to continue.
Day four in Korea saw conditions switch back on to resume racing. The subsequent three women’s races saw utter domination from Valerie Ghibaudo, as she executed back to back wins to firmly cement her name at the top of the women’s rankings.
Chasing, Karin Jaggi and Alice Arutkin did their best to pressure Ghibaudo, but had to settle for the remaining podium positions as toppling the on-form French sailor proved to be impossible.
The men’s racing kicked off by finishing up the remaining three heats of race four.
With the departure of Dunkerbeck and Maynard, Albeau was free to add another victory to his stash. In second, Josh Angulo (Dakine / Angulo / MauiSails) bagged his best slalom result of the season so far, and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet / MauiSails) showed a glimpse of the form he enjoyed in Austria to take third.
The final men’s elimination of the event saw a total reshuffle on the finish line. Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Gaastra) finally got to grips with conditions to secure third place, his best result of the event. Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) continued to show outstanding consistency in second, but topping the elimination was Maynard, who had been hinting as his ability to win races, but thus far had never delivered.
Maynard: “I started the race in the middle to upper part of the line, and just tried to hold my speed down the first reach. Micah had a better start than me but we both met mid way down the run. I decided to back off him at the gybe and try and take him on the second reach. Again, we got to the gybe together. I did a wide, high-speed gybe which really paid off and allowed me to overtake. From there I managed to control the race and was able to finish ok. It was a good run.”
The remaining three days of competition were spent waiting on standby until time on the clock finally ran out. In women’s racing, Ghibaudo and Jaggi have started what looks to be another amazing season of rivalry, while young gun Arutkin has shown she’s got what it takes to deliver race winning performances.
In men’s racing, Albeau’s return to event winning form was no surprise, however his quest for a fourth world title will push him and his rivals to the limit as the level of sailing has gone through the roof.
Buzianis delivered one on the stand out men’s performances, after returning from injury to secure second position in the event, a commendable result, and one of huge significance to the season that lies ahead.
The PWA would like to express enormous thanks to the Ulsan Broadcasting Corporation and all the sponsors of this event, and we look forward to returning in 2010 for the fourth PWA Ulsan World Cup.
The 2009 PWA Ulsan World Cup results:
1 Antoine Albeau (NeilPryde / JP)
2 Micah Buzianis (NeilPryde / JP)
3 Björn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne Sails)
4 Finian Maynard (RRD / NeilPryde)
5 Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North Sails)
6 Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Gaastra / Dakine)
7 Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet / MauiSails)
8 Josh Angulo (Dakine / Angulo / MauiSails)
9 Ben Van Der Steen (Simmer Style / Exocet)
10 Patrick Diethelm (North Sails / F2)
1 Valérie Ghibaudo (Loft Sails / Tabou Boards)
2 Karin Jaggi (F2 / Severne Sails)
3 Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North Sails)
4 Sarah Hebert (Starboard / Naish Sails)
5 Lena Erdil (Starboard / Loft Sails)
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© PWA / Andrew Buchanan